yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

The Woods-Nunnery Debate

edited by Joyce Hendrix

Note: At one time, debates on religious topics were popular and well attended in West Tennessee. These debates were major local events from the 1920s into the late 1940s. Biographical sketches below reveal that Guy N. Woods had participated in over 50 debates, and A. U. Nunnery had participated in about 30. The debate reported here was held at Cedar Hill Baptist Church in Henderson County July 2-5, 1946. Photographs show the church to have been packed — four days, in the middle of the day, in an unairconditioned building, in July! This file contains the introductory pages, biographical sketches, and photographs from a bound book transcription of the debate edited and published by Joyce Hendrix. The debates, not reproduced here, concerned the role of baptism and whether or not a child of God can fall from grace.


July 2-5th, 1946,
at Cedar Hill Baptist Church


GUY N. WOODS, Church of Christ
Forwarding Address: 870 Chelsea Avenue,
Memphis, Tennessee

A. U. NUNNERY, Missionary Baptist
Parsons, Tennessee

Recorded by

Loaned by
Jackson, Tennessee

Published by
Route 1
Huntingdon, Tennessee


Joyce Hendrix at transcribing machine

 Joyce Hendrix with the transcribing equipment and typewriter, January 6th, 1947, when the final transcribing was completed. The debate was taken on disc records. The small records held two minutes of speech, and the larger ones held seven minutes of speech. There are nearly 400 of these records. At times it was very difficult to understand these records, because the speakers spoke so loudly, but by playing them several times, we have the debate as you will read. These speeches were copied with a typewriter as played, then rewritten, to place the sentences about like they should be. Then they were mailed to each speaker to look over and put in corrections if needed.

Grover Stevens, Bruceton, Tenn., copied about 50 pages; Brother Lester L. Weaver, Henderson, Tenn., copied about 200 pages and I copied around 150 pages oft these records.

It took over a solid month to get the speeches off the records and nearly that long to rewrite them.




Guy N. Wood, was born September 26, 1908 near Holladay, Tennessee. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. George E. Woods. His mother was Eula Stokes before her marriage. Guy is the elder child in a family of three. Earle, his brother is an able evangelist and is widely known for his work in middle Tennessee. His sister is Mrs. Glen Bawcum of Chicago.

Guy spent much of his childhood working around a saw mill and some on a. farm near Holladay. He has always been attracted by debates and was an ardent literary debater in school. He finished High School in Holladay and spent two years in Freed-Hardeman College.

On his 16th birthday, Guy preached his first sermon. As a gospel preacher, Bro. Woods has done an outstanding work. He has done local work in Memphis, Tennessee, Tompkinsville, Kentucky, Post, Kirkland, Wellington, and Lubbock, Texas.

He was ever in demand for evangelistic meeting work. For the past several years he has given his full time to this type of work, holding about 25 meetings each year. This work has been in Tenn., Kentucky, Mich., Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Mississippi and Alabama. His forceful manner, explicity, statements, and kind voice together with his thorough knowledge of the scriptures has crowned his efforts to lead the lost to Christ with much success.

He is a staff Writer for the Gospel Advocate and his articles are widely read and highly respected. He also writes Bible School literature,

He is a member of the Texas and Tennessee bars, but has never engaged in the actual practice of law.

Guy N. Woods is an outstanding debater. He is recognized in general by the churches of Christ as sound in the faith and able to uphold the truth. He has engaged in about fifty debates with Baptists, Methodists, Holiness, Adventists, Christadelphians, and Materialists. Some of the Baptists that he has met are: D. N. Jackson (twice), H. F. Pepper (five times), A. U. Nunnery (twice), L. J. Crawford (twice), M. L. Welch (three times). Also, it may be of interest to note that he has met L. J. Crosswell, able materialist debator, six times. Bro. Woods has been successful as a debater for several reasons. One is his thoroughness. He never allows an argument of his opponent to go unnoticed. He makes his arguments in a forceful, intelligent, yet very simple manner. He does not become excited, nor does he allow his temper to show itself. He confines his remarks to the Issues and not to personalities, as can be plainly seen from reading this debate.





An attempt to set forth a true sketch of any man's life should be an intelligent effort that is, the biographer should know his subject.

I have known my subject for thirty years, and know him to be a high-toned Christian gentleman.

He was born in Benton County, eight miles south of Camden, Tennessee, on August 22, 1873. His parents died when he was five or six years old. After their death, he was carried to Henderson County and then to Decatur County, where he spent most of his life. During his boyhood days he lived about three miles south of Cedar Hill. His brother, Alonso, was a preacher and publisher.

On October 18,1890, he was licensed to preach the Gospel, and ordained on August 8th, 1897. He has pastored from three to eight churches since his ordination. At the same time he has had some thirty-odd debates, meeting such men as I. B. Bradley, E. M. Borden, Claude Cayce, N. V. Parker, Joe L. Netherland, and others.

He has baptized thousands of people, preached hundreds of funerals, and has pastored near one hundred churches, one of which, twenty years. He is loved by all sound Baptists, and is known by all, to be a clean debater

At present he is seventy-three years old, and still active in the lord's work.



It might be interesting to mention a few things to you about this debate. Each of the speakers was reared within 15 miles of the church, Cedar Hill. They knew each other in debate before and in this discussion put all they had into it. It is the desire that all who read it will search the scriptures, along with their reading

On the spur of the moment, we thought of making it into a book, so I got in touch with W. A. Bradfield and it was agreed upon and who got the consent of the speakers but he was not in a position to get a stenographer, Tuesday before the debate, Tuesday week, I rushed to town and asked the lawyers about a good stenographer. But all were employed during court. I contacted two Business Colleges but of no use. We gave up the idea for the time being, until Grover Stevens said to use recording equipment. He got the permission to use Loyce L. Pierce's recording equipment but we discovered there was no electricity in that country so gave, up the idea, and tried to get a stenographer at Camden but failed. We then decided to give up the project. That was Friday about noon.

On Sunday I went to a homecoming within four miles of Cedar Hill and learned that my Brother, Leslie Hendrix, had got a 1000-watt portable electric power unit on Friday, so we decided again this time to get the debate, but Brother Steven had cancelled the promise for the Sound-Scriber and had promised it to another.

So, Monday we got out early and went to Jackson to harrow the equipment and learn how to run it. Mrs. Pierce gave us some information and a few records. Then we ran quickly to Henderson to get the Freed-Hardeman College machine and some two-minute records, to find Claude Hall gone C. P. Roland had no authority to lend the machine. Oh, well. We must see N. B. Hardeman, who happened to be home, yes N. B. Hardeman told us boys to take good care of the machine and we could use it. Did we feel a sense of relief!

With the two machines we could overlap the records so the speeches would be continuous. We got in home about six Monday night with the equipment to record the debate.

The printing of it has been about as impulsive. Friends, if any of the pages are not purely in line, just remember if a sheet of paper got slightly crooked we could not throw it out, for paper is hard to get. We liked to never secured the paper we used. The setting of the type was a great job too.

We are glad to offer this book to you even if there has been so many obstacles all along the way.

We are grateful to: Grover Stevens who did so much in securing the transcribing machines, and his wife, Kathryn, who helped copy part of the debate. Also, to Loyce L. Pierce and Freed-Hardeman College for furnishing the Sound-Scriber machines. And to Leslie Hendrix for the electric power plant, and Mr. E. N. Earls, the man responsible for the typesetting, we also express our appreciation.

Mr. Woods and Mr. Nunnery have been very nice in this work and did a good job looking over their speeches and clearing them for printing. W. A. Bradfield encouraged the project every way he could, and we greatly appreciate his willingness to help us along.

Mr. Moody, the Baptist preacher of Parsons hooked a loud speaker to the power plant to help the large crowd outdoors hear the speeches.


Guy N. Woods, Debater/W. A. Bradfield, Moderator


A. U. Nunnery, Debater/W. H. Hooper, Moderator


Looking into Northeast corner from the Rostrum during Noon gathering


Looking Southeast and it was misting rain outside when the pictures were made


Almost a direct front view from the rostrum, facing south


The West view, and note the people busily engaged in singing


CEDAR HILL BAPTIST CHURCH. The top view made from the Southeast corner.
Bottom picture made from Northeast corner about thirty minutes
after the debate was over Friday afternoon

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